BUSY, BUSY, BUSY..... Somehow, in the US, we equate busy with more productive, and often morally superior. The puritan work ethic is alive and well, but how well is it working for us?
"Determine never to be idle... It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing." Thomas Jefferson.
While Thomas Jefferson was brilliant in many ways, he got this one wrong.
The value of rest is underrated, and often ignored. Looking at success in athletics or competition of any kind, high achievers have secrets to share.
THE PERFECT BALANCE
The best athletes make gains by having focused, intense periods of work followed by equally deliberate rests. For example,
after weightlifting almost to the point of muscle failure/exhaustion, muscles break down. It is during the rest interval that magic happens. Muscles recover, rebuild, and get stronger. Getting the right balance of focused work to physical and psychol
ogical recovery is part of what separates the best from the rest.
BREAK IT UP
For every 90 minute work period, taking a 15 minute br
eak enhances productivity. This is the perfect time to do yo
ur home exercise program. The harder and more focused the work,
the shorter the work period should be before you take a break. Studies show that after two hours of concentrated work, productivity diminishes. Are you taking the
breaks you need to stay on task?
n a six-minute walk around the office, or better yet, outside, allows your brai
n to reset and unleash your creative juices. People who walked in nature for even six minutes were 60% mor
e creative than those who did not leave their desks. Even indoors, a six-minute walk increased creativity 40%. So if you are working hard and getting
stuck, get moving.
Walking is the perfect break activity: not so taxing that you have to focus on it, but just enough to relax the conscious mind and allow the subconscious (creative) mind to emerge. P.S.: Leave your smart phone behind.
NATURE IS NURTURE
Nature enhances positive moods, and has been linked to de
creases in Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a molecule associated with inflam
mation. An article in the journal
correlated the feeling of awe with the greatest reduction in IL-6. The suggestion was that being in nature decreases stress and thus decreases inflammation. Not sure? Take a relaxing walk around Chautauqua and see for yourself.
Riding my bike home from work at the end of a long day is just the interlude I need to create a more relaxing evening. Movement is medicine and turning off
my brain for 20 minutes does wonders
switch me into rest mode.
One measure of systemic
is the hormonal ratio
testosterone to cortisol - the higher the ratio, the better. Coaches have discovered that hanging out relaxing with the team does more for recovery than massage, ice baths, or almost anything else. Coach Steve Magness, author of Peak Performance, has observed this with his runners, and it's corroborated by research at the
University of Bangor (UK).
We value productivity. But, paradoxically, rest is often the missing part of the equation for getting the most out of our time.
PRACTICING WHAT WE PREACH